Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Aijalon Mahli Gomes -- got to admire him

            Aijalon Mahli Gomes, a teacher from Boston who had been teaching English to South Koreans, decided to walk across the border into North Korea, knowing he would be arrested, with the intention of protesting North Korea's human rights abuses. 
            Assuming the absence of psychological problems, and the articles I read don't refer to any, I do admire someone so strongly convinced of his principles that he is willing to put his life on the line.  He is like the Christian martyrs of old -- albeit a modern Boston variety of one. 
            Will his sacrifice achieve the results he desires?  Maybe -- a little: ". . . North Korea expert Yoo Ho-yeol of Korea University in Seoul said Gomes will likely be released without having to serve the prison term. He predicted North Korea would use him as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the U.S. on its nuclear program.
            "'Continuing to hold him in custody is also a burden for North Korea,' as it will only galvanize criticism of its human rights record, Yoo said.
            "He said North Korea will likely press for payment of the fine, or at least a negotiated amount."
            COMMENT:   Much of what I've been reading recently has been critical of the idea that there are any fixed principles.  Heidegger more or less assumed that when he urged Germans to seek authentication in their heritage.   His idea, it seems to me, was that even though there are no fixed principles, one can be true to what is best in one's heritage or tradition.  He wasn't specific, but I thought the idea had merit.  Even people who don't believe in anything can seek the good from their tradition.  Sartre, following Heidegger a little, thought that one ought to look about, seek the best ideology at hand and follow that.  For Sartre that was Communism. 
            What was Aijalon Mahli Gome's "tradition."  To some extent it had to be Christianity, but he didn't travel into North Korea to convert the Communist pagans, he went there to protest their human rights abuses:  ". . . Gomes — described by friends as a devout Christian — attended rallies in Seoul in support of Park, a fellow Christian from the U.S. who deliberately went into the North in December to call attention to the nation's rights record.
            "A Seoul-based activist familiar with Gomes, Jo Sung-rae, said he might have been inspired by Park to make a similar trip.
            ""Gomes was weeping and he looked so sincere when he asked me if I knew anything about Robert Park's status in North Korea,' Jo said Wednesday."
            We are too used to hearing about the willingness of Islamists to sacrifice their lives for what they believe.  We hear to much about their desire to strap on bombs and blow up unbelievers.  It is refreshing to read about Gomes with a similar level of commitment, sacrificing himself in accordance with his Western, Christian, and (with hat doffed to Boston) Liberal traditions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it is very admirable that someone takes it upon himself to try to make a point and statement of his beliefs. BUT, don't ask the US government and tax payers to bail him out when his actions are considered illegal in a foreign country. I think he needs a mental assessment, his passport canceled and he should be fined enough $$$$$$ that it will take him to rest of his life to pay off the debt.